If you read last week’s post on A Short History of Diapering in America, you know that I’m both a history nerd and a cloth diapering geek–which make me wonder about obscure subjects. Like diaper rash in colonial times, Native American treatments for mastitis, and midwives in the wild west. I’m pretty sure no one else does that!
I’ve struggled with cloth diapering at night with my children, but then wondered how all those moms dealt with it when there weren’t any other options. My son had a massive bladder that couldn’t be stopped by even the thickest diaper. Both he and my daughter both had recurrent yeast infections or night wakings that I attributed to cloth. Sure enough, when we switched to disposables, the problems cleared up. Still, I hate buying disposables and feel so sad tossing them into the trash.
In my research I learned that in the early 1900’s, women started boiling their diapers while doing the laundry. They had a greater awareness of bacteria and sterilization and used the scalding hot water to prevent diaper rash.
Many readers recommended that I boil our diapers to kill the yeast that was causing infection, but I didn’t really want to haul out the pasta pot on a weekly basis to sterlize my dirty diapers.
As we found in our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, most washing machines don’t reach the necessary hot water temperature to fully sterilize diapers, since most don’t have built in heaters. Because of that, we recommend actually washing in cold water to save energy. The temperature that the diapers reach in the dryer actually help kill bacteria–and they can be stripped in hot water every so often to be sure that laundry soap doesn’t build up.
Still, if you are having yeast problems with nighttime diapering, and you do have a sterilizing cycle on your washing machine, it’s worth trying it out.
I may try dumping boiling water on my diapers in the bathtub and just soaking them for awhile. If I then try cloth diapering at night and don’t have the yeast issues, history will have rescued me!
Here’s another question: Did people in the 1960’s still boil their diapers? I would assume that after the invention of the washing machine, people didn’t resort to this sort of laundering technique. Since most people used cloth, did everyone just have more information about how to prevent yeast infections?
On Wednesday, I will share the wealth of tips I’ve gotten to help deal with yeast infections at night. In the past, I honestly felt too tired to trouble shoot, but now that my baby is sleeping through the night, I think I can take on a few suggestions!